[Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and the Rules of the House of Representatives, 110th Congress]
[House Document 109-157]
[Rules of the House of Representatives]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]
the members, delegates, and resident commissioner of puerto rico
When the House recodified its rules, it consolidated former rule VIII,
rule XII, and clause 6(h) of rule X under rule III, except that viable
provisions of former clause 2 of rule VIII were transferred to current
clause 3 of rule XX. This clause was adopted initially in 1789, with
amendment in 1890 (V, 5941). Before the House recodified its rules in
the 106th Congress, this clause was found in former clause 1 of rule
VIII (H. Res. 5, Jan. 6, 1999, p. 47).
Leaves of absence are presented pending the motion to adjourn (IV,
3151), and are usually granted by unanimous consent, but sometimes are
opposed or even refused (II, 1142-1145). Application for leave of
absence is properly presented by filing with the Clerk the printed form
to be secured at the desk rather than by oral request from the floor
(VI, 199). Whether or not they are privileged is a matter of doubt (II,
1146, 1147). Excuses for absence, as distinguished from leaves of
absence, may be granted by less than a quorum (IV, 3000-3002). The
statutes provide that deductions may be made from the salaries of
Members who are absent without sufficient excuse (II, 1149, 1150); and
while this law has been enforced (IV, 3011, footnote; VI, 30, 198), its
general application is not practical under modern conditions. Form of
resolution for the arrest of Members absent without leave (VI, 686).
VIII, 3071; Speaker Albert, Dec. 2, 1975, p. 38135; Speaker O'Neill,
Mar. 1, 1979, p. 3748; July 30, 1996, p. 19952), and the Speaker has
denied his own power to deprive a Member of the constitutional right to
vote (V, 5956; Speaker Albert, Dec. 2, 1975, p. 38135; Speaker O'Neill,
Mar. 1, 1979, p. 3748). Members may not vote in the House by proxy (VII,
1014). Instance where a Member submitted his resignation from a
committee on grounds of disqualifying personal interest (VIII, 3074).
671. Personal interest.
1. Every Member shall be present
within the Hall of the House during its sittings, unless excused or
necessarily prevented, and shall vote on each question put, unless he
has a direct personal or pecuniary interest in the event of such
The House has at times excused Members from voting in cases of
personal interest (III, 2294; V, 5962; Aug. 2, 1949, pp. 10591, 10592;
Oct. 20, 1951, p. 13746; July 21, 1954, p. 11262; July 28, 1955, p.
11930; July 12, 1956, p. 12566).
Sec. 672. Member's control of his own vote.
It has been
found impracticable to enforce the provision requiring every Member to
vote (V, 5942-5948), and such question, even if entertained, may not
interrupt a pending record vote (V, 5947). The weight of authority also
favors the idea that there is no authority in the House to deprive a
Member of the right to vote (V, 5937, 5952, 5959, 5966, 5967; VIII,
3072). In one or two early instances the Speaker decided that because of
personal interest, a Member should not vote (V, 5955, 5958); but on all
other occasions and in the later practice the Speaker has held that the
Member himself and not the Chair should determine this question (V,
Sec. 673. Nature of disqualifying personal interest.
It is a
principle of ``immemorial observance'' that a Member should withdraw
when a question concerning himself arises (V, 5949); but it has been
held that the disqualifying interest must be such as affects the Member
directly (V, 5954, 5955, 5963), and not as one of a class (V, 5952;
VIII, 3071, 3072; Speaker Bankhead, May 31, 1939, p. 6359; Speaker
Albert, Dec. 2, 1975, p. 38135). In a case where question affected the
titles of several Members to their seats, each refrained from voting in
his own case, but did vote on the identical cases of his associates (V,
5957, 5958). While a Member should not vote on the direct questions
affecting himself, he has sometimes voted on incidental questions (V,
(b) No other person may cast a Member's vote or record a Member's
presence in the House or the Committee of the Whole House on the state
of the Union.
Delegates and the Resident Commissioner
Before the House recodified its rules in the 106th Congress, this
clause was found in former clause 3 of rule VIII (H. Res. 5, Jan. 6,
1999, p. 47). The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct recommended
this addition to the rules in its May 15, 1980, report on voting
anomalies that had occurred in the House (H. Rept. 96-991), and the
House adopted the rule in the 97th Congress (H. Res. 5, Jan. 5, 1981,
pp. 98-113). Even before the addition of this clause, however, ``ghost
voting'' was considered unethical (VII, 1014; Dec. 18, 1987, p. 36274).
Sec. 674. Voting.
2. (a) A Member may not authorize any
other person to cast his vote or record his presence in the House or the
Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union.
Before the House recodified its rules in the 106th Congress, this
provision was found in former rule XII (H. Res. 5, Jan. 6, 1999, p. 47).
The first form of paragraph (a) was adopted in 1871, and it was
perfected by amendments in 1876, 1880, 1887, and 1892 (II, 1297).
Reference to the Resident Commissioner was first found in 1904 (II,
1306). Paragraph (a) was again amended on January 2, 1947 (Legislative
Reorganization Act of 1946), August 2, 1949 (p. 10618), February 2, 1951
(p. 883), January 22, 1971 (H. Res. 5, 92d Cong., p. 144), January 3,
1973 (H. Res. 6, 93d Cong., p. 26), and January 3, 1991 (H. Res. 5, 102d
Cong., p. 39). Paragraph (a) was completely revised in the 103d Congress
(H. Res. 5, Jan. 5, 1993, p. 49) to provide that each of the Delegates
and the Resident Commissioner be elected to committees of the House on
the same bases, vote in any committees on which they serve, and vote on
questions arising in the Committee of the Whole House on the state of
the Union. The latter power was affected by former clause 2(d) of rule
XXIII (current clause 6(h) of rule XVIII) (providing for immediate
reconsideration in the House of questions resolved in the Committee of
the Whole by a margin within which the votes of Delegates and the
Resident Commissioner were decisive; see Sec. 984, infra). The changes
effected in the 103d Congress were revoked in the 104th Congress (sec.
212, H. Res. 6, Jan. 4, 1995, p. 462) and reinstated in the 110th
Congress (H. Res. 78, Jan. 24, 2007, p. ----).
The constitutionality of granting to Delegates the right to vote in
the Committee of the Whole under the former rule, as circumscribed by
former clause 2(d) of rule XXIII (current clause 6(h) of rule XVIII),
was upheld based on the premise that immediate ``revote'' where votes
cast by Delegates had been decisive rendered their votes merely symbolic
and not an investment of true legislative power. Michel v. Anderson, 14
F.3d 623 (D.C. Cir. 1994).
The Office of Delegate was established by ordinance of the Continental
Congress and confirmed by a law of Congress (I, 400, 421). The nature of
the office has been the subject of much discussion (I, 400, 403, 473);
and except as provided by law (I, 431, 526) the qualifications of the
Delegate also have been a matter of discussion (I, 421, 423, 469, 470,
473). A territory or district must be organized by law before the House
will admit a Delegate (I, 405, 407, 411, 412). The Office of Delegate
from the District of Columbia was established by Public Law 91-405 (84
Stat. 845). The Offices of Delegate from the Territories of Guam and the
Virgin Islands were established by Public Law 92-271 (86 Stat. 118). The
Office of Delegate from American Samoa was established by Public Law 95-
556 (92 Stat. 2078) and was first filled by the general Federal election
of 1980. The Office of Resident Commissioner was established (with a
four-year term) by the Act of March 2, 1917 (39 Stat. 963; 48 U.S.C.
891). The Act of May 17, 1932, changed the name of Porto Rico to Puerto
Rico (48 U.S.C. 731a).
Under an earlier practice, Delegates did not vote in committee (VI,
243); but this had not always been so (II, 1301). The Resident
Commissioner, who under the rules of the 91st and earlier Congresses,
was designated as an additional member of the Committees on Agriculture,
Armed Services, and Interior and Insular Affairs, is now elected to
committees in the same fashion as are other Members and may exercise in
those committees on which he serves the same powers as other members,
including the right to vote.
The law provides that on the floor of the House a Delegate may debate
(II, 1290), and he may in debate call a Member to order (II, 1295). He
may make any motion that a Member may make except the motion to
reconsider (II, 1291, 1292). A Delegate may make a point of order (VI,
240). A Delegate has even moved an impeachment (II, 1303). However, a
resolution offered from the floor to permit the Delegate of the District
of Columbia to vote on the articles of impeachment against the President
was held not to constitute a question of the privileges of the House
under rule IX (Dec. 18, 1998, p. 27825). He may be appointed a teller
(II, 1302); but the law forbids him to vote (II, 1290). He has been
recognized to object to the consideration of a bill (VI, 241), to a
unanimous-consent request to concur in a Senate amendment (June 29,
1984, p. 20267), and has made reports for committees (July 1, 1958, p.
12870). A discharge petition may not be signed by a Delegate or the
Resident Commissioner, even by unanimous consent (Oct. 1, 2003, p. ----)
because the phrase in clause 2 of rule XV ``a majority of the total
membership of the House'' is construed to mean 218 Members (Speaker
Byrns, Apr. 15, 1936, p. 5509), not including Delegates or the Resident
Commissioner. The rights and prerogatives of a Delegate in parliamentary
matters are not limited to legislation affecting his own territory (VI,
240). Under paragraph (a), the Delegates and the Resident Commissioner
are counted for purposes of establishing a quorum in a Committee of the
Whole (Feb. 8, 2007, p. ----).
At the organization of the House, the Delegates and Resident
Commissioner are sworn (I, 400, 401); but the Clerk does not put them on
the roll (I, 61, 62; Jan. 6, 1999, p. 41).
A Delegate resigns in a communication addressed to the Speaker (II,
1304). He may be arrested and censured for disorderly conduct (II,
1305), but there has been disagreement as to whether he should be
expelled by a majority or two-thirds vote (I, 469).
The privileges of the floor with the right to debate were extended to
Resident Commissioners in the 60th Congress (VI, 244). Before the
independence of the Philippines it was represented in the House by a
Resident Commissioner (Deschler, ch. 7, Sec. 3.3).
675. Committee service.
3. (a) In a Committee of the Whole
House on the state of the Union, each Delegate and the Resident
Commissioner shall possess the same powers and privileges as Members of
the House. Each Delegate and the Resident Commissioner shall be elected
to serve on standing committees in the same manner as Members of the
House and shall possess in such committees the same powers and
privileges as the other members of the committee.
Before the House recodified its rules in the 106th Congress, paragraph
(b) was found in former clause 6(h) of rule X (H. Res. 5, Jan. 6, 1999,
p. 47). Paragraph (b), effective January 3, 1975, initially authorized
the appointment of Delegates and the Resident Commissioner to certain
conferences (H. Res. 988, 93d Cong., Oct. 8, 1974, p. 34470). Paragraph
(b) was amended in the 96th Congress to authorize their appointment to
select committees (H. Res. 5, Jan. 15, 1979, pp. 7-16), and again in the
103d Congress to authorize their appointment to any conference (H. Res.
5, Jan. 5, 1993, p. 49).
Before the adoption and refinement of this paragraph, a Delegate or
the Resident Commissioner could not be appointed to a conference
committee (Sept. 18, 1973, p. 30144; July 20, 1973, p. 25201); and they
could be appointed to a select committee only with the permission of the
House (Sept. 21, 1976, p. 31673).
Sec. 676. Appointment to select and conference
(b) The Delegates and the Resident Commissioner may be
appointed to any select committee and to any conference committee.